Bawku Central Member of Parliament, Mahama Ayariga has been cleared by an Accra High Court of three charges levelled against him by Special Prosecutor, Martin Amidu.
Mr. Ayariga was charged by the Special Prosecutor on four counts of alleged criminal offences including fraudulent evasion of customs, duties and taxes, using public office for private benefit, dealing in foreign exchange without licence and transfer of foreign exchange from Ghana through an unauthorised dealer.
A ruling by presiding Judge, Justice Afia Botwe Monday however directed that three out of the four charges be dismissed, leaving Mr. Ayariga with just one charge to answer to; the count of using public office for private benefit.
Per the Judge’s orders, particulars of the offences as stated in counts 1, 3 and 4 and 5 of the charge sheet do not make reference to corruption hence do not fall within the remit of the Special Prosecutor.
The charges being;
Count one; Fraudulent evasion of cutoms duties and taxes contrary to section 121 (2) (f) of the Customs Act, 2015 (Act 891)
Count two; Using Public Office for Private Benefit Contrary to section 179C (a) of the criminal offences Act, 1960 (Act 29)
Count three; Fraudulent evasion of customs duties and taxes contrary to section 121 (2) (f) of the Customs Act, 2015 (Act 891)
Count four; Dealing in Foreign exchange without license contrary to sections 3(1) and 29 (1) (a) of the Foreign exchange Act, 2006 (Act 723)
Count five; Transfer of Foreign exchange from Ghana through an unauthorized dealer contrary to sections 15 (3) and 29 (1) (a) of the Foreign Exchange Act 2006, Act 723
Moreso because the Special Prosecutor as per law is mandated to prosecute offences relating solely to corruption.
Amidu qualifies to prosecute
The court also dismissed all three applications seeking to challenge the qualification, capacity and jurisdiction of Special Prosecutor, Martin Amidu to prosecute the Bawku MP for criminal offences.
Mr. Ayariga through his council sought to contest the qualification of Martin Amidu as Special Prosecutor. He argued that the latter, on account of his age; 65 years, is not qualified to hold the Office of the Special Prosecutor since the holding of that office is in contravention of article 199 (1) and (4) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana.
He also sought to challenge the capacity and remit of Mr. Amidu in the case.
Additionally, counsel of the accused, Mr. Ayariga sought to ascertain whether officers from the Special Prosecutor’s office have the right to use the solicitor general’s license.
The ruling given Monday however noted that a determination on the capacity of the Special Prosecutor would amount to the usurpation of the powers of the Supreme Court, effectively an injunction on the responsibilities of the Special Prosecutor. She maintained that Mr. Amidu remains substantive Special Prosecutor until the Supreme Court decides otherwise.
It was further established that the Special Prosecutor’s office may exercise its mandate in addition to any relevant law so far as it is corruption or corruption related. With regards to the Solicitor’s license, the High Court also indicated that Amendments in the Special Prosecutor’s Act make it such that Lawyers in the Office of the S.P are recognized as law officers and don’t need solicitors license to appear before any court.
Martin Amidu per the ruling is therefore qualified to investigate per the charges accordingly.
The Member of Parliament for Bawku Central was admitted to a self recognisance bail of GHC100,000 in both suits involving the procurement of a V8 and ambulances. This was after Mr. Ayariga pleaded not guilty to all charges levelled against him.
6 other accused persons involved in the procurement of ambulances without following due procedure were also admitted with a bail of GHC 50,000 each with two sureties, one resident in Accra.
All accused persons were directed to leave their passports with the Registrar General’s department.
One Kenderick Akwasi Marfo, a second accused person in the suit involving the fraudulent evasion of customs duties and taxes in the procurement of some Toyota V8 Land Cruiser vehicles was discharged